trailering and towing

2018-6-18 | Chevy New Roads Magazine

Trailering 101

Chevy pickups equipped with a trailering package help you tow with confidence. But it’s not as simple as “tow and go.” Here’s some practical information to help you handle common trailering challenges.

Selecting the right hitch

Choosing the right hitch and making the proper electrical connections affect how your vehicle handles, corners, and brakes, and allow you to alert other drivers of your intentions while towing. Before selecting a hitch or trailering package, you should be familiar with the weight ratings specific to your Chevrolet vehicle.

Fig. 1: A fifth-wheel hitch, designed for heavy trailering. a & b: Weight-carrying hitches consist of a hitch ball mounted on a step-bumper (a) or draw bar (b). c: A gooseneck hitch designed for heavy trailering.

Trailering FAQs

Q: How can I be sure I’m not exceeding the load capabilities of my vehicle?

Gross combined weight rating (GCWR) is the total allowable weight of the completely loaded vehicle and trailer including any fuel, passengers, cargo, equipment, and accessories. Do not exceed the GCWR of your vehicle. The GCWR for the vehicle is listed in the Trailering Table in the Owner’s Manual.

 

To check that the weight of the vehicle and the trailer are within the GCWR for the vehicle, follow these steps:

 

  • Start with the “curb weight”
  • Add the weight of the trailer loaded with cargo and ready for the trip
  • Add the weight of all passengers
  • Add the weight of all cargo in the vehicle
  • Add the weight of hitch hardware, such as a draw bar, ball, load equalizer bars, or sway bars
  • Add the weight of any accessories or aftermarket equipment added to the vehicle
 
 
The resulting weight cannot exceed the GCWR value. The gross combined weight can also be confirmed by weighing the truck and trailer on a public scale. The truck and trailer should be loaded for the trip with passengers and cargo.
 
 
Q: What’s important to remember when trailering in hilly or mountainous country?
Driving up a steep incline, a lower gear can provide more power or torque. Crest the hill at a speed no greater than the speed at which you want to descend. Shift into a lower gear to help provide “engine braking” on the descent. Chevrolet pickups equipped with an automatic transmission and trailering package have a Tow/Haul mode and grade braking feature in the transmission that can help you do this. Be sure to consult your Owner’s Manual.
Colorado

Maximum Towing Range:

3,500 lbs.–7,700 lbs.

Great for:

Recreational vehicle trailers, large pop-up campers, small to midsize fiberglass bass boats 

Silverado 1500

Maximum Towing Range:

5,200 lbs.–12,500 lbs.

Great for:

Recreational vehicle trailers, one- or two-horse trailers, one- and two-axle travel trailers

Silverado 2500HD

Maximum Towing Range:

14,500 lbs.–18,100 lbs.

Great for:

Long-haul towing, large fifth-wheel travel trailers, landscaping and farm equipment trailers

Silverado 3500HD

Maximum Towing Range:

14,500 lbs.–23,300 lbs.

Great for:

Long-haul towing, large 
recreational boats, farm equipment trailers, 
fifth-wheel trailers

Trailering Camera System

This available system from EchoMaster,®† an accessory for the Silverado HD and 1500 and the Colorado, uses multiple cameras to help provide views around your vehicle.

 

The package includes cameras for your side mirrors and a trailer-mounted camera, and pushes those views directly to your in-dash screen to help you keep track of what’s around you. You can also add optional wireless cameras to provide views into your trailer (for hauling livestock, for example) or that fit your center brake light to look into the truck bed, if you’re using a gooseneck or fifth-wheel hitch.

Good looking out

First image: The EchoMaster camera is mounted on the rear of the trailer and wirelessly transmits images to the Silverado’s center display. Second and third images: The system is fully integrated with the Silverado infotainment system, providing images from up to four cameras on the center display.

Trailering Technologies

Chevrolet offers a variety of towing technologies that help you tow with confidence.

Trailer Sway Control

This feature senses trailer sway and automatically applies the vehicle and trailer brakes (if equipped) and reduces engine power to help you get back on track.

Hill Start Assist

On inclines greater than a 5-percent grade, this feature helps hold the vehicle stationary for about a second, allowing you to press the accelerator before the vehicle may roll backward.

Tow/Haul Mode

Standard on every Silverado, Tow/Haul mode adjusts transmission shifts to reduce shift cycling when towing or hauling heavy loads or driving on steep grades.

Pre-Towing Checklist

Make sure you do a thorough check of the following before you hit the road:

  • Hitch draw bar and retaining pin installed
  • Trailer connected to hitch and locked
  • Safety chains in place (for conventional and gooseneck hitch type)
  • Safety lock in place (for fifth-wheel type)
  • Equalizer bars installed and adjusted (if available)
  • Electrical connector plugged in—the wiring length should be sufficient for turning, but not long enough that it drags on the ground
  • Lights working properly
  • Breakaway system—ensure trailer brake breakaway system lanyard is connected and the cable length is correct
  • Jack stowed properly (for conventional hitch type)
  • Landing gear stowed properly (for gooseneck and fifth-wheel hitch type)
  • Wheel chocks removed
  • Tires properly inflated
  • Lug nuts/bolts on the vehicle and trailer are fastened to the correct torque
  • Distribute load—check load distribution to make sure the tow vehicle and trailer are properly balanced front to back and side to side

  • Mirrors adjusted to ensure visibility around trailer

  • Ensure trailering brakes are functioning and gain is correctly adjusted
  • Maintenance—before driving, make sure the vehicle and trailer maintenance are current
  • Plan your route, including any restrictions on bridges and tunnels

Trailering Tips

Check your local laws to determine whether you need a commercial driver’s license for your particular towing situation.

 

Always attach safety chains between your vehicle and trailer. Cross chains under the tongue of the trailer so the tongue will be less likely to drop if the trailer should separate from the hitch.

 

When loading a trailer, distribute 60 percent of the load over the front half of the trailer and evenly from side to side. Loads sitting too far forward or too far back can create trailer sway at highway speeds and during heavy braking.

 

When backing up a trailer, place one hand at the six o’clock position on the steering wheel. To move the trailer to the left, move your hand to the left. To move the trailer right, move your hand right. Back up slowly and in small increments to maintain control.

 

Braking when pulling a trailer requires extra distance. A good measure of safe distance is to allow one vehicle and trailer length between you and the vehicle ahead of you for every 10 mph of speed.

 

Never exceed the load capabilities of your vehicle, including tongue weight (TW). Tongue weight is the downward force of the coupler of the trailer on the vehicle’s hitch (usually 10 percent to 15 percent of the loaded trailer weight for a conventional hitch, and 15 to 20 percent for a gooseneck hitch).

 

Don’t try to steer out of a trailer sway situation; it will only make it worse. Instead, hold the steering wheel as steady as possible, release the accelerator (without touching the brake) and activate the electric trailer brakes (if equipped) by hand. 

 

Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the Trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

 

STORY: BOB BUTZ/PHOTOGRAPHY: DANA NEIBERT/ILLUSTRATION: MATTHEW ALLEN

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*The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. Click here to see all Chevrolet vehicles' destination freight charges.

  • Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the Trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the Trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

     

    Requires available Z82 Trailering Package. Max towing of 7,700 lbs. requires available Duramax 2.8L Turbo-Diesel 4-cylinder engine.

  • Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the Trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

     

    Max towing of 12,500 lbs. requires 1500 4-door Double Cab Standard Box LTZ 2WD or Crew Cab Short Box LTZ 2WD with available 6.2L V8 engine and Max Trailering Package.

  • Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the Trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

     

    Max towing of 18,100 lbs. requires Silverado 2500HD Regular Cab 2WD with fifth-wheel hitch and available Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V8 engine.

  • Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the Trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

     

    Requires 3500HD Regular Cab 4x4 DRW with available Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V8 engine.

  • Non-GM warranty. Limited warranty by EchoMaster,® 3 years/36,000 miles. For more information, contact your dealer. Associated Accessory. Non-GM Part.

  • The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. Click here to see all Chevrolet vehicles' destination freight charges.

  • With 5.3L EcoTec3 V8 engine. Based on GM Large SUV segment and EPA-estimated MPG highway: 23 (2WD), 22 (4WD).

  • Dependability based on longevity: 1987 – July 2017 full-size pickup registrations.

  • EPA-estimated MPG city/highway: Sonic with 1.8L engine and 5-speed manual transmission 26/35; with 1.8L engine and 6-speed automatic transmission 25/34; with 1.4L engine and 6-speed manual transmission 28/37; with 1.4L engine and 6-speed automatic transmission 27/35.

  • The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. Click here to see all Chevrolet vehicles' destination freight charges.

  • MyLink functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • Do not use summer-only tires in winter conditions, as it would adversely affect vehicle safety, performance and durability. Use only GM-approved tire and wheel combinations. Unapproved combinations may change the vehicle’s performance characteristics. For important tire and wheel information, go to my.chevrolet.com/learn/tires or see your dealer.

  • With rear seats folded. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution

  • EPA-estimated 29 MPG city/39 highway with 5-speed manual transmission and 30 MPG city/38 highway with available Continuously Variable Transmission

  • EPA-estimated 29 MPG city/38 highway with 5-speed manual transmission and 30 MPG city/38 highway with available Continuously Variable Transmission.

  • EPA estimated with 3.6L V6 engine.

  • Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

  • EPA estimated with 3.6L V6 engine

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Apple and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires compatible iPhone and data plan rates apply. Apple CarPlay, Siri, iPhone and iTunes are trademarks for Apple Inc, registered in the U.S. and other countries.

  • Always use seat belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See the Owner’s Manual for more information.

  • EPA estimate for Sonic with available 6-speed automatic transmission.

  • With rear seats folded. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

  • Always use seat belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See your vehicle Owner’s Manual for more information.

  • Connected Services include navigation services and Remote Access Plan, and 1 month/3 GB of 4G LTE data (whichever comes first) from vehicle delivery date. Services are subject to User Terms and limitations. Certain services require working electrical system, cell service and GPS signals. OnStar links to emergency services. Visit onstar.com for more details.

  • Model year 2018 and newer vehicles include: 1 month of OnStar Safety & Security Plan and 1 month of Chevrolet Connected Services which include navigation services, Remote Access Plan and 1 month or 3 gigabytes of 4G LTE data (whichever comes first) from vehicle delivery date. Services are subject to user terms and limitations. Visit onstar.com for more details. Data plans offered by AT&T. Availability subject to change.

  • Connected Services include navigation services and Remote Access Plan, and 1 month/3 GB of 4G LTE data (whichever comes first) from vehicle delivery date. Data plan offered by AT&T. Services subject to user terms and limitations. Certain services require working electrical system, cell service, and GPS signal. OnStar links to emergency services.  Visit onstar.com for more details.

  • If you decide to continue service after your trial, the subscription plan you choose will automatically renew thereafter and you will be charged according to your chosen payment method at then-current rates. Fees and taxes apply. To cancel you must call SiriusXM at 1-866-635-2349. See SiriusXM Customer Agreement for complete terms at siriusxm.com. All fees and programming subject to change. Sirius, XM, SiriusXM and all related marks and logos are trademarks of Sirius XM Radio Inc.

  • With rear seats folded. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

  • Requires available Performance Exhaust or Z51 Performance Package.

  • Requires available Performance Exhaust or Z51 Performance Package.

  • If you decide to continue service after your trial, your selected subscription plan will automatically renew thereafter. You will be charged at then-current rates. Fees and taxes apply. To cancel you must call SiriusXM at 1-866-635-2349. See SiriusXM Customer Agreement for complete terms at siriusxm.com. All fees and programming subject to change. ©2018 Sirius XM Radio Inc. All rights reserved.

  • Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the Trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • EPA-estimated 28 City/39 Hwy MPG

  • With second row seats folded flat. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

  • The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. Click here to see all Chevrolet vehicles' destination freight charges.

  • Read the vehicles Owner’s Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Does not detect people or items. Always check rear seat before exiting.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Google and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires the Android Auto app on Google Play and an Android compatible smartphone running Android 5.0 Lollipop or higher. Data plan rates apply. Android, Android Auto, Google, Google Play and other marks are trademarks of Google LLC.

  • Service varies with conditions and location. Requires active OnStar service and paid AT&T data plan. Visit onstar.com for details and limitations.

  • Premier shown seats seven. Standard on L, LS. Available on LT.

  • EPA-estimated 18 MPG city/ 27 MPG highway 3.6FWD.

  • With second and third row seats folded flat. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

  • EPA-estimated 18 MPG city/ 27 MPG highway 3.6FWD.

  • Read the vehicle owner's manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • The system wirelessly charges one PMA- or Qi-compatible mobile device. Some devices require an adaptor or back cover. To check for phone or other device compatibility, visit my.chevrolet.com/learn for details.

  • EPA-estimated 25 MPG city/31 highway (FWD models).

  • With rear seats folded. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

  • With second and third row seats folded flat. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

  • With 5.3L EcoTec 3 engine. EPA-estimated MPG city/highway: Suburban 2WD 15/22, 4WD14/21.

  • Based on GM Large SUV segment. With 5.3L EcoTec 3 engine. EPA-estimated MPG city/highway: Tahoe 2WD 15/22, 4WD 15/21.

  • With second and third row seats folded flat. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

  • Read the vehicles Owner's Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. Click here to see all Chevrolet vehicles' destination freight charges.